LAHAINA - One of Maui's newest residents, Davey, has a very special story.
Davey, a Shiba mix, grew up in Fukushima, Japan. In the terrible disaster on March 11, 2011, his life changed forever.
When his family was forced to evacuate after the nuclear explosions in the wake of the devastating 9.0 earthquake, Davey was left behind.
Davey finally gets to relax on Maui after his long ordeal.
His family went into an evacuation center but were not allowed to bring pets, so they had to make regular trips out to see him to bring food and water.
Eventually, this became too much for them, so they turned to an animal rescue group called JEARS (Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support) to help.
JEARS took him to one of their shelters, where he met Maui volunteer Pauline Jennings. She bonded with him immediately and decided she would try to adopt Davey and bring him home.
Meanwhile, Davey had to travel all the way to Southern Japan to be housed and cared for at a permanent shelter called HEART-Tokushima.
After nearly a year of protocol, paperwork and Hawaii quarantine regulations, she was able to bring Davey back to Maui.
"You couldn't imagine a happier little guy," noted Jennings.
She was in Fukushima from the end of June to August volunteering at a temporary animal shelter, caring for dogs that were being rescued.
"We also looked after dogs and cats whose owners were not allowed to take their pets to their temporary housing and had nowhere for them to stay," Jennings explained.
"I came back to Maui then went back again September to November. A lot of the dogs I'd looked after in Fukushima had been transferred to a shelter in Southern Japan, so I went down there to continue helping care for them. Over 100 dogs and sometimes only two or three of us - very hard work as you can imagine, but most rewarding experience of my life.
"I went back a third time this past May, but that was just to bring Davey home and visit some of the amazing friends I'd made over there. The group I volunteer with are still rescuing animals out of the evacuation zone. It's never-ending now with all the puppies and kittens being born. Amazing how many have survived so long on their own."
Davey now gets to go to work every day with his new Mom, who is parish administrator at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Lahaina. Davey has now become the official office mascot.
The church is holding a very special "Blessing of the Animals" event on Sunday, Oct. 7, to celebrate the annual feast day of St. Francis.
"Davey is very proud to be featured with Holy Innocents Rector Father Bill Albinger on the flyer now advertising this occasion," Jennings wrote.
All animals and their owners of every faith will be welcomed by the animal-loving congregation. Father Bill will be offering individual blessings for each one.
Services are slated for 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at 561 Front St. between Prison and Shaw streets.